The U.S. House of Representatives last night approved a late-term abortion ban which prohibits abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization which is equivalent to 22 weeks of pregnancy, the beginning of the sixth month. The bill was based on fetal pain research. The bill originally was designed to only impact the District of Columbia, but was later expanded to apply nationally after the Gosnell murder trial. HR 1797 the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed with a 228-196 vote that was mostly partisan. Seven Democrats voted for the bill and six Republicans voted against it.
HR 1797 is based on a National Right to Life model bill that has already been enacted in nine states (Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Dakota).
“This legislation reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of both men and women,” said National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias. “The Obama White House, and all but a handful of House Democrats, fought for essentially unlimited abortion in the sixth month or later, despite growing public awareness of the violence perpetrated by late-term abortionists such as Kermit Gosnell and the pain they inflict on unborn babies.”
The Polling Company in March completed a nationwide poll of 1,003 registered voters. They found that 64% would support a law such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks — when an unborn baby can feel pain — unless the life of the mother is in danger. Only 30% opposed such legislation. According to a January 2013 Gallup poll, 80 percent of Americans would make abortion illegal in the third trimester and 64 percent would make abortion illegal in the second trimester.
The bill is unlikely to receive a vote in the U.S. Senate, and President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto it should it pass the Senate. The Obama administration released their veto threat on Monday which said in part, “The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1797, which would unacceptably restrict women’s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman’s right to choose. Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care, and Government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor.”
The veto threat by the President, according to Tobias, isn’t surprising “because as a legislator, Barack Obama said he would trust abortionists to take good care of any babies born alive — he would trust the Gosnells, in other words. Obama’s veto threat harkened back to his opposition to the ban on partial-birth abortion, and his attacks on the Supreme Court for upholding the ban on that brutal method of late abortion.”
Even so this is an important vote to have on record going into 2014 and voters can see how their member of Congress voted on this bill. Marjorie Dannenfelser of SBA List pointed this out, “Votes have consequences. Congress should take note we’re pulling together our 2014 target list tonight.” Many pro-life groups responded to last night’s vote.
Jenifer Bowen of Iowa Right to Life pointed out how Iowa’s members of Congress voted, “We appreciate leaders like Iowa’s Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King, co-sponsors of this important life-saving legislation. It is disappointing to again see Iowa’s Congressmen Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley turn a deaf ear to the cries of our unborn.”
“I applaud the House vote on a bill that is truly informed by modern science, which shows unborn children are fully capable of experiencing pain by 20 weeks after fertilization. Unborn children in their sixth month of pregnancy or later are routinely given anesthesia during prenatal surgery, so this legislation conforms federal abortion law to modern science,” said Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council.
“It’s disappointing that the president is stuck in the Roe v. Wade science of the ’70s and has threatened to veto the bill. Ignoring modern science is harmful to both unborn children and mothers, as we know babies can survive as early as 22 weeks after gestation. The horrific pain of being ripped apart limb by limb must be stopped.
“Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors shows we must stop late abortion. He was convicted of murdering babies born alive but also of 21 counts of illegal late abortions after 24 weeks in violation of state law. Yet many states continue to allow these brutal late abortions through the ninth month.
“The only difference between killing a baby born alive and aborting them just prior to birth is location. Human dignity is not dependent upon location,” Perkins concluded.
“Congress has taken an important first step toward making sure we stop abortionists like Kermit Gosnell and his horrific abortion clinic and procedures. The House listened to the overwhelming majority of Americans, men and women, who instinctively recoil at the dehumanizing and degrading practice of late-term abortion,” Dannenfelser added. “This pro-woman, pro-science, Constitutional bill deserves an immediate vote in the U.S. Senate. It’s simple: children capable of experiencing unimaginable pain from abortion must be protected across the country.
“The big abortion industry cannot defend late-term abortions. Americans are disturbed by the callous nature of this practice, the disgusting clinic conditions in Pennsylvania, Delaware and other states, the 330,000 abortions Planned Parenthood of America performs every year as it receives half a billion in taxpayer dollars, and the repeated harm women experience as a result of their exploitation. Women and the unborn deserve better than abortion, and making late-term abortions illegal is a simple step in that direction.”
The bill does have some opposition within the pro-life community since it allows some abortions and that this particular bill allows exceptions for cases of rape and incest reported prior to the abortion to appropriate authorities. It also would allow for abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization in cases where the mother’s life is in danger (which is generally accepted in the pro-life community while other exceptions are not).
Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Savethe1.com said, “This abortion ban relies on the fact that babies feel pain in the womb and shouldn’t be made to suffer. Babies conceived in rape feel no less pain than babies conceived under the happiest circumstances. People like me, who were conceived in rape, feel the pain of being targeted for death every day.”
Georgia Right to Life said that the bill had been hijacked. “Georgia Right to Life advocates that women who have suffered such assault be given genuine support and help and that those who commit such crimes be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that laws be passed to aide in such prosecution.
The action alert continues, “However, further traumatizing the woman with another act of violence and killing the innocent child for the crime of the father does not help the women and is absolutely morally wrong. All life is sacred. Its value should not depend on the manner of conception.”